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About this Poem 

“It’s strange how summers from different decades can be yoked together by memory in a single poem. That’s what happened here.”
Linda Pastan

Summer Triptych

1.
The world is water
to these bronzed boys
on their surfboards,
riding the sexual waves
of Maui
like so many fearless
cowboys, challenging
death on bucking
broncos of foam.

2.
On the beach at Santorini
we ate those tiny silverfish
grilled straight from the sea,
and when the sun went down
in the flaming west
there was applause
from all the sated diners,
as if it had done its acrobatic plunge
just for them.

3.
Swathed from head to toe
in seeming veils of muslin,
the figure in the Nantucket fog
poles along the shoreline on a flat barge.
It could be Charon transporting souls
across the River Styx, or just
another fisherman in a hoodie,
trolling for bluefish
on the outgoing tide.

Copyright © 2015 by Linda Pastan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 12, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Linda Pastan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 12, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Linda Pastan

Linda Pastan

The author of many collections of poetry, Linda Pastan's book Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998 was nominated for the National Book Award

by this poet

poem
The way a birthmark  
on a woman’s face defines 
rather than mars
her beauty, 

so the skyscrapers—
those flowers of technology— 
reveal the perfection 
of the garden they surround.        

Perhaps Eden is buried 
here in Japan,
where an incandescent 
koi slithers snakelike 

to the edge of the  pond; 
where a
poem
Perhaps the purpose
of leaves is to conceal
the verticality
of trees
which we notice
in December
as if for the first time:
row after row
of dark forms
yearning upwards.
And since we will be
horizontal ourselves
for so long,
let us now honor 
the gods
of the vertical:
stalks of wheat
which to the ant
must seem as
poem
I married you
for all the wrong reasons,
charmed by your 
dangerous family history,
by the innocent muscles, bulging
like hidden weapons 
under your shirt,
by your naive ties, the colors
of painted scraps of sunset.

I was charmed too
by your assumptions
about me: my serenity—
that mirror waiting to be cracked,